Sunday, November 12, 2017

Gaining Focus

I set my phone down and the world came back into focus.  The sun shining through the windows, car seats on either side of me, my sweet baby in my arms.  I was sitting on the floor of my van nursing my precious 5 week old, because, well that's just how I do things.  I looked up and realized that I'd been mindlessly scrolling on my phone and not giving mind to the things right in front of me.  I tend to pick up my phone when I'm nursing, because it feels like wasted time.  I'm stuck in a chair, or in the bed, or on the floor of my van and I can't really do much else.  So I Christmas shop, or get on Facebook, or play a game.  When all the while, a cute little baby is snuggled up next to me.  And not just any cute baby.  MY cute baby.  My LAST baby. And I'm already grieving the time passed. The squishy snuggles I will no longer have, all too soon. The sweet baby clothes that I am no longer storing in the basement when he grows out of them, like I've always done in the past.
I had put down my phone because he had stopped eating, and it was time to switch him to the other side. But once my surroundings came into focus, so did a lot more. I looked down at my baby, happily eating and looking right up at me. Asking to have a conversation with me between his little eyes and mine. I am the center of his world right now and he is asking to be the center of mine. And while he can't be all the time (I do have 2 other kids that I love fiercely), I could probably give him this time. After all, pretty soon he will be eating mac and cheese and daddy is gonna be way cooler than me, anyway.

 Whether you are a believer or not, what is blinding your mind so that you cannot see what is important?

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." 2 Corinthians 4:4

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Playing for Change

Things were getting pretty hard. I couldn't understand why my home felt so out of control.  My temper was short and it seemed like my kids were simply insane. What was wrong with them?!  Why wouldn't they just chill out and do what I asked?  I truly thought something was wrong with my 4 year old.  I had worked with a classroom full of four year olds and his behavior did not seem typical. And why was he so anxious all the time?

Then one day it just kind of clicked. There was nothing wrong with my children. There was something wrong with ME!  I had checked out. I had a very short fuse, was incredibly irritable, and even the smallest thing would set me off.  I had my face buried in my phone or my mind occupied with a never ending to-do list of things that were not important.  My kid was anxious because I was always raising my voice at him. My children were acting insane because they needed my attention. Somehow, in my quest for the perfect life, I was ruining ours.

So I set out to make small steps for positive change inside the four walls that were meant to nurture my children (and not to control them). One very important step was to put aside my distractions and PLAY with my children.  I can't even tell you the difference that this one change has made. Not only are my kids getting attention, but I'm more patient when I am more present. Plus, it's fun to play Legos and Go Fish! 🙃

Monday, October 12, 2015

What Matters Most

I finished up my maternity leave about two months ago, and went back to work.  I was having a really rough time with it, and so I wrote myself a little letter.  I'm reading it again, today, to remind myself that being a stay-at-home mom isn't the only way I can be a GOOD mom.  If life isn't exactly how you planned, and "perfect" just doesn't seem to be working out, I highly suggest sitting down and writing out the important outcomes you want and you may realize that they can still be achieved (and possibly already are).

Dear Nicole,

I know you are about to go back to work and your maternity leave is ending.  I know this is breaking your heart, because you so desperately want to be home with your children and serving your family from home.  I know that it is no fun to have to go back to work. 

I want you to remember that you don't have to stay at home to bless your family.  By going back to work, you can be a blessing in so many ways.  The most obvious way is financially.  This is a blessing to your husband as he transitions to a new career.  You are taking some pressure off of him to be the sole provider while he is starting out.  You are helping your whole family by easing the stress of making ends meet.

You going to work also allows your chilren to grow in their relationships with other caregivers, namely, their grandparents.  This is quite a blessing for them to have a relationship with their grandparents. 

You are blessing yourself by spending time doing work you enjoy and are good at.  And, in turn, this blesses your home by giving you a "break" from your home, in order to enjoy it well while you are there.

And while, of course, I hope you are soon able to stay home with your children, please know that you are not wasting away their childhoods by having to work.  You are still their mom and can still enrich their lives in so many ways.

Remember your list of "What Matters Most."  Each of these things can still be attained whether you are working or staying home.  So when you are feeling discouraged because you feel like the important things are being overlooked, remember what the important things are.  Remember your list:

What Matters Most
  • My children are loved
  • My children are healthy
  • My children are confident
  • Our home is joyful
  • We seek God
  • We love others
  • Our basic needs are met
  • We have quality time with each other and with those we love

Good luck as you return to work, and try not to be discouraged.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Relationship Reset

3-year-olds are hard.  They are just plain hard.  Add postpartum hormones and a new baby...Well that's just a disaster.  And the truth is, things have been strained.  There have been raised tempers, lost patience, yelling, time outs and the gamut.  And many days, I'm left with the feeling of just being a huge failure as a mom.

But then, we were presented with this lovely day.  We spent the morning with friends at the park (activities are paramount for survival).  I committed to no TV during nap time, giving me time to regroup and rejuvenate.  And the baby chose to sleep for a good long while after the 3-year-old woke.

And then, he told me he wanted to sit in my lap while we watched Octonauts.  This is a scarcity lately, as it's hard to hold a toddler in your lap while rocking an infant.  So, with the baby still peacefully sleeping, I sat him in my lap.  And instead of "multitasking" on my phone like I normally would (because really, how many times does one REALLY need to watch an animal in scuba gear save sea creatures?), I put my phone away.  I soaked in his sweetness.  I wrapped my arms around his little body.  I breathed in his scent.  And even though he smelled slightly like a wet dog (as 3-year-olds often do), I still just basked in the moment.

And then he said, "I don't wanna ever go away."  And I didn't want him to either.  And we watched those scuba diving animals save sea creature after sea creature and soaked each other in, resetting our relationship and giving us a chance to start again.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Discovering Age

As I pulled my hair back into a ponytail, I noticed the unthinkable.

I've been dreading the big 3-0 for some time now.  Growing "old" was just not something I ever intended to do.  I was going to be forever young at heart.  Full of energy and swarming with children that were happy, healthy, well rounded, beautiful and we'd spend our days singing songs, learning about the world, and playing in the crisp sunshiney air of paradise.  My husband would come home to a perfectly clean home (a large one with a beautifully manicured yard) and he would happily tickle the children on the floor until I graced the table with my 5 course meal.  30 was old, and for sure, by then, I'd have it all figured out and life would be perfect.

The thing about life is that it isn't perfect.  So as 30 approaches, I am faced with unrealized dreams.  Yes, I have a loving husband and a happy, healthy, beautiful little boy.  So who am I to complain (I mean seriously, I've got it pretty good)?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Blessings for a Working Mother

I dropped my sweet thing off at Nana's and he cried as I left.  It is especially hard on a Wednesday, because that's one of my 2 job days (leave one job to head to an evening shift at my second).  I was frustrated that I had to leave him and posted the following on my Facebook page:

       Say what you will about women's rights and feminism....but when I leave my baby with him
       crying "Mommy!" solidifies that Mommies were not meant to be in the workplace.

It was supposed to be an innocent comment expressing my frustration for having to work when I want to be home with my little man.   I should have known better.  The remainder of the day was filled with debate on women's rights, parenting, and people likely frowning at their computers or smart phones wondering why Nicole hates working mothers and thinks they are terrible parents for working to feed their families.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Love and Grief

As a little girl I used to beg my mom for a big brother.  She tried and tried to explain to me that she simply couldn't give birth to a brother who would be older than me.  Of course, she was right.  But, while my mom couldn't give me a big brother, God could.  He brought a wonderful man into our lives, who brought with him not only a big brother, but a little brother, too.

My best friend is grieving a great loss in her life, right now, and her sweet little girl has lost her brother.  As I grieve this loss with my dear friend, I can't help but also grieve the loss of my own brother.  The big brother I wanted so badly, so many years ago.